The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 32
(Part 1 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session No. 32

23 Iyar 5721 (9 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the thirty-second Session of the trial open.

State Attorney Bach: Before presenting the witness whom I asked to come from France, I shall submit a number of further documents.

The first is Prosecution document No. 438. It is a letter from Otto Abetz, the German Ambassador in Paris, to the German Foreign Ministry. In it he reacts to the plan of the Head Office for Reich Security to deport 40,000 Jews from France. He says he has no objection to the operation, he expresses only one request - that the deportations should be carried out in a manner that will cause anti-Semitism among the French population to increase.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/430.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 225, a report by Dannecker dated 4 July 1942, i.e. three days after the meeting with Eichmann. And here he already submits a plan for the proposed operation and says: "The practical implementation must be in the hands of the French Police - under the absolute direction of IV J," i.e. Dannecker's office.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/431.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is Prosecution document No. 318. It concerns a discussion held on the same day, 4 July 1942, in the presence of SS Standartenfuehrer Dr. Knochen and SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker among others, and representing the French, Bousquet, State Secretary for the Police, Darquier de Pellepoix, French Commissioner for Jewish Affairs and some other officials. This is a coordination meeting for planning the implementation of the deportation of the Jews from France.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/432.

State Attorney Bach: Next is Prosecution document No. 361. Dannecker reports to Section IVB4. This document was shown to the Accused when he was interrogated and is numbered T37(63). The subject is a consultation between SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann and SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker on 1 July 1942, and he says:

"The negotiations with the French Government have so far yielded the following results:

All the stateless Jews in the occupied and unoccupied zones are being readied for deportation.

President Laval has proposed to include in the deportation of Jewish families from the unoccupied zone also children under the age of 16. The question of Jewish children remaining in the occupied zone does not interest him.

I therefore request an urgent decision by telegram whether children under 16 may be deported starting with the fifteenth Jewish transport from France."

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/433.

Judge Halevi: Does this means that Laval proposed to take the children?

State Attorney Bach: It was Laval's proposal to take the children under 16, too. Later we shall see a certain change in Laval's attitude, but this, at any rate, was the situation on that day.

The next document is Prosecution document No. 699. It deals with the first meeting of what was called the "Action Committee." Participants: SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker and SS Untersturmfuehrer Heinrichsohn representing the SS, and representing the French Darquier de Pellepoix, Monsieur Leguay and others. Here we find very detailed planning. The subject is the arrest of the Jews in Paris in accordance with the special instructions, 28,000 Jews were to be arrested, what categories of Jews, etc. Details of the actual deportation are discussed, how many persons are to be taken from each camp - from Drancy, Compiegne, Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande; the technical details of the transportation of the Jews to the East, their provisioning and equipment. All these matters are determined in coordination between the participants in that meeting.

Judge Halevi: And every week four trains were to leave carrying a thousand Jews to the East?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, this was decided already at that time. I had not intended to read this now, because later I shall show that the operation was actually carried out in this manner. But it was in fact already discussed at this meeting.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/434.

State Attorney Bach: And now, Your Honours, I pass on to a chapter which caused the Accused considerable distress at the time: In our document No. 705 Roethke informs IVB4...

Presiding Judge: Roethke is Dannecker's deputy?

State Attorney Bach: He was his deputy and later on he actually filled his position, after Dannecker had moved to a similar post in Bulgaria.

Roethke here informs Eichmann that there would have to be a change in the schedule of transports of Jews to the East and that one train from Bordeaux, which was to have taken Jews to Auschwitz on 15 July 1942, would have to be cancelled, because it was not possible to fill it.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/435.

State Attorney Bach: This letter was written on the 14th of the month. And now, lo and behold, on the 15th of the month, the same Roethke writes the following minute. It is Prosecution document No. 60. It was also shown to the Accused and was then numbered T37(27):

"On 14.7.1942 close to 19.00 o'clock, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Eichmann, Berlin, phoned and wanted to know why the deportation train scheduled for 15.7.1942 was cancelled. I replied that originally "star-wearers" were to be arrested in the provincial towns, too, but following a recent arrangement with the French Government, only stateless Jews are to be arrested now. The train on the 15.7.42 had to be cancelled because, according to information from the SD unit in Bordeaux, there were only 150 stateless Jews there. A supplement of Jews for this train could not be found because of the shortness of time at our disposal."
Presiding Judge: It says here: "ein Ersatz an Juden fuer diesen Zug" (a replacement of Jews for this train).

State Attorney Bach: In general, 1,000 Jews travelled on a train. Here he had only 150 and he says that he cannot find a suitable replacement, meaning, in this context, supplement.

"SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann pointed out that this was a matter of prestige. It had been necessary to conduct lengthy negotiations with the Reich Ministry of Transport about these trains, which had been concluded successfully, and now Paris cancelled a train. Such a thing had not happened to him until now. The matter was most shameful. He did not want to inform SS Gruppenfuehrer Mueller immediately because he would thus make a fool of himself. He would have to consider whether he would not have to give up France as a deportation country altogether."
I stress the words "he would have to consider..." This threat was of course too much for Roethke.
"I expressed the hope that this would not happen again and added that it was not the fault of our Office that the train had to be cancelled. Moreover, Department IV J had received the information that there were only 150 stateless Jews in Bordeaux very late, but had informed the Head Office for Reich Security by telegram immediately after its receipt. The remaining trains would run according to schedule."
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/436.

State Attorney Bach: It should be emphasized: When this document was put before the Accused he admitted, on pages 686-687, that he could quite possibly have expressed himself in those terms.

Now I may perhaps be permitted a small digression, though not for comic relief, into a piece of research by the Accused into Jewish History, especially into the Purim festival and Queen Esther - all this so as not to let some more Jews escape from his clutches. The reference is to our document No. 321, which was also shown to the Accused in T/37(83). It refers to several holders of Iranian citizenship who were to be deported but claimed that they were not Jewish by race since they were only Iranians of Mosaic religion. The matter was brought for decision before the Accused who had to give a ruling whether these people were Jews who had therefore to be deported to Auschwitz, or whether they were not Jews.

And here is his reply to the German Foreign Ministry:

"Subject: Jews of Iranian Citizenship. Reference: Your letter of 18.9.42. The description contained in the memorandum on the Iranian Jews: 'Iranians of Mosaic Religion,' constitutes one of the usual Jewish attempts at concealment and camouflage (handelt es sich um einen der ueblichen juedischen Verschleierungs- und Tarnungsversuche). Although, owing to the racial and religious structure of Western Asia, there may be some individual Iranians of Mosaic persuasion who do not belong to the Jews from the point of view of race, nevertheless Jews, who can frequently be recognized as such only by their religious persuasion, have no claim to be equated with non-Jews on the basis of this circumstance alone. Such a special status of the Iranian Jews would be justified only, if there had never been a Jewish Question in Iran, nor Jews who are Jewish from the racial point of view.

"But the very opposite is the case. Throughout the centuries, starting with the historic golden age of the Persian Empire (the case of Esther, the Purim feast of the Jews), the Jewish Question existed in Iran. It was acute or dormant in accordance with the changing political situation. The seventeenth century in Iran in particular was marked by trenchant measures against the Jews (designation by a wearing a red cloth on the breast, seclusion in ghettos, temporary prohibition on going out into the street)."

Would the Court be interested to hear the details of this historical research or is this enough?

Presiding Judge: This is enough.

State Attorney Bach:

"The conclusion is that these persons are also Jews and that there is no reason to let them escape. Signed: Eichmann."

Presiding Judge: This will be T/437.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 64. There are two pages here at the beginning that are of no importance. I refer to the letter by Dannecker to the Accused, Head Office for Reich Security, IVB4, of 10 July. . Reference: The same conversation with Eichmann of 1 July. It says here:

"The arrest of the Jews will be carried out by the French Police during the period 16.7. - 18.7.1942. It is to be expected that after the arrests about 4,000 Jewish children will be left behind. At first these children must be cared for by the French social services. Since a protracted mixing of these Jewish children with non-Jewish children is undesirable and the Union of the Jews in France can accommodate 400 children at most, I ask for an urgent decision by telegram whether the children of the stateless Jews to be deported may be removed together with them, starting with about the tenth transport."
Presiding Judge: This will be T/438. Could you perhaps shorten the quotations a little?

State Attorney Bach: The last document at this stage is our No. 65 which was shown to the Accused in T/37(32). It is the answer to the preceding letter:

"On 20.7.1942 SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann and Obersturmfuehrer Novak of the Head Office for Reich Security, IVB4 phoned here. The question of the children's transports was discussed with Obersturmbannfehrer Eichmann. He decided that, as soon as transportation to the Generalgouvernement will be possible again, children's transports can roll (Kindertransporte koennen rollen). So Obersturmfuehrer Novak promised to make possible about six transports at the end of August - beginning of September, in which Jews of all kinds (also those unfit for work and aged Jews) could be included."
And there is again an explanation concerning the unfortunate train from Bordeaux which was cancelled and an apology to Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/439.

State Attorney Bach: At this point, where Kindertransporte, die rollen koennen (children's transports which can roll) are mentioned I shall, with the permission of the Court, call a witness who, among other things, saw these children before they were sent to their death by the Accused.

I call upon Mr. Georges Wellers to give evidence.

Presiding Judge: The witness speaks French, doesn't he?

State Attorney Bach: Yes.

The witness is sworn.

Presiding Judge: What is his full name?

Witness: Georges Wellers.

Presiding Judge: Please answer the questions put to you by Mr. Bach.

State Attorney Bach: Where are you now living?

Witness Wellers: 6 rue du Loing in Paris.

Q. And what is your occupation?

A. I am Maitre de Recherches (Senior Researcher) at the National Centre for Scientific Research.

Q. You also work at the Faculty of Medicine at the Sorbonne, don't you?

A. Yes, I work at the Faculty of Medicine at the Sorbonne.

Q. In what capacity?

A. I direct a laboratory of physiological research.

Q. You were awarded a prize of the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Medicine, weren't you?

A. Yes.

Q. Where were you born, Mr. Wellers?

A. was born in Koslov in Russia.

Q. And when did you arrive in France?

A. In 1929.

Q. You got married in Latvia and have two children?

A. Yes.

Q. You have been a French citizen since 1938?

A. Yes.

Q. In 1939 you joined the French army when the war broke out?

A. Yes.

Q. Where were you in June 1940, when the Germans occupied France?

A. In the Bordeaux region.

Q. And you were then released from the army and returned to Paris?

A. Yes.

Q. And you went back to your work in the physiological laboratory at the Faculty of Medicine?

A. Yes.

Q. Mr. Wellers, which was the first razzia (round-up) carried out by the Germans against the Jews in France?

A. Well, the first major round-up took place in May 1941.

Q. Who were the people arrested on that occasion?

A. Foreigners - the German, Austrian, Polish and Czechoslovakian Jews in Paris. They were asked to go to the police station to check their civil status, and when they showed up they were arrested. These were all men, adult men.

Q. Where were these people taken?

A. They were taken to the Orleans region, a hundred kilometres to the south of Paris, to two camps called Beaune- la-Rolande and Pithiviers. Those were the first two camps which were set up.

Q. When was the second time Jews were arrested?

A. The second great round-up took place on the 2nd of August 1941 in Paris. They combed the 11th arrondissement (administrative district) of the capital which had the densest Jewish population, and in one day - going to one house after another, one shop after another, and checking the personal documents of passers-by in the streets - they arrested all the Jews, all able-bodied men. I forgot to point out that, in the course of these arrests, about 4,000 people were arrested, and, in August, about 6,000; and, in addition, in the city outside the 11th arrondissement, they arrested about forty of the most prominent Paris advocates, including Pierre Masse, for instance, a very well-known lawyer who formerly, in Clemenceau's time, had been a Minister.

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